|Glyphosate being sprayed over Colombia. (Photo; Wikipedia)|
The evidence is not clear, as this New York Times article points out, and, in contrast, the German government recently ruled that the herbicide was safe. Glyphosate manufacturer Monsanto also insists the herbicide is benign.
But there's enough reason to feel concerned about using glyphosate, the world's most popular herbicide and to wear a mask and gloves while spraying it in the back yard.
|Composition of the mixture sprayed over coca fields.|
(Photo; U.S. State Department)
Glyphosate's effects are contested. While glyphosate does kill plants, coca leaf farmers have learned how to deal with it, by spreading a protective coating over their crops' leaves, harvesting the leaves when they see spray helicopters approaching, hiding coca plants between rows of food plants, or replanting quickly after spraying. According to some reports, there is even a 'Round-up ready' variety of coca bush.
|A child's drawing shows coca leaf |
spray planes killing animals. (Image: Daily Kos)
And while glyphosate spraying has been a component of Colombia's aggressive coca eradication campaign, Peru and Bolivia which do not allow spraying have also reported reducing their own coca leaf plantations. Moreover, it's not clear that reductions in coca leaf plantations have affected supplies in the United States and Europe. Cocaine prices are reportedly dropping in the United Kingdom, and higher drug prices in the United States may be due to a crackdown on precursor chemicals. It also appears clear that reducing supply is a much less effective way to combat drug consumption - since it drives up prices - than is reducing demand.
The latest report that glyphosate could be carcinogenic is no reason to ban the chemical. But it does provide yet another reason to consider shelving a dubious anti-drug campaign.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours